Sunday, December 02, 2012

It is, it is a glorious thing

This weekend I saw the Pirates of Penzance at the Chopin theatre. The Chopin is a great theatre in Wicker Park.  The waiting room looks like an eccentric granny's living room.  While we were having a pre-drink, they announced that the house was opening, and we were welcome to go in, hang up our coats, and find a seat… although, they said… there weren't really seats.  Whhaaaaaaaaa?  

We go in and there's a long pier in the middle of the room, hipster actors wandering around with a variety of instruments, guitars, banjoes, mandolins, washboards and even a damn saw.*  They were dressed in old-timey bathing suits and the whole room had the madcap air of 1960s lyric summer camp, which focused on south-seas musicals.  It was like the whole thing was designed by Wes Anderson and Andrew Bird.  They were throwing around beach balls and handing out sunglasses, singing and getting all of us to sing too.  It was super-fun, and the show hadn't even started yet.  Right before the show stared, they told us the actors would be moving all over the space and so would the audience.  They said if they pointed at us or tapped us on the shoulder we should move aside.  Woo - I've never been on my toes so much as an audience member.  

At first I thought, ugh, this is gonna suck, because, during my undergrad theatre years, I saw plenty of standing theatre and, it does, indeed, suck.  Because it hurts to stand in one place for a long time.  But, it was more of an up and down thing, and if you lost your seat, you could easily find another.  And, no pesky leg pain from sitting for ages - we should all probably stand up that often and stretch our legs.  

I LOVE the 1983 movie version of Pirates of Penzance, which you really should look up if you haven't seen it.  It's finally out on DVD!  Kevin Kline!  Angela Landsbury!  That guy from The Greatest American Hero!  Linda Effing Rondstadt!  It's really great and really funny.  So, I was a bit worried that this performance would never live up to that great show.  But, they were such different approaches, it  was never a contest.  

It was a really unique theatre experience.  It was downright joyous - and if you're in the area, I beg you to get a ticket, and take a young person - one great thing about the show was that there were a lot of kids (10 or so in our audience).  Usually when I go to the theatre, I'm like, the youngest person there.  It was great to see kids and such engaged kids!  Maybe the theater isn't dying after all!  

* I actually love the saw as an instrument, but it's so darn twee I can barely stand it.  A paradox (a paradox a most confusing paradox!)

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